Finding it tricky to put aside money each month? Being part of a stokvel might encourage good saving behaviour
How it works
There are 12 members, including Zandi herself, in Zandi’s stokvel. At the start of the year, the group decides who will receive the money each month. At the beginning of the month, each member deposits R1 000 into the bank account of the recipient so that person receives R11 000. (It is R11 000, not R12 000, in total, as the person who receives the money doesn’t pay themselves.)
Zandi says, ‘It is a lot of money and, because some of us live in dangerous neighbourhoods, it’s safer to deposit the money than it is to give it to that person in cash.’
Why it’s a good idea
‘I wait for my month to come around and then buy the big things that I may need, like a couch or a TV,’ says Zandi. This is a way to budget – if you know you will be receiving more money in a certain month, you can work your big expenses around that.
Sometimes people cannot pay the R1 000 a month, says Zandi. This isn’t a problem if they haven’t yet received their R11 000. In that case, they just don’t pay and the person receiving the money gets less. As a result, the member who is owed doesn’t have to pay their R1 000 to the person who didn’t pay them when that person’s turn comes around.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems
If the person cannot pay the R1 000, but has already received their R11 000, there is an issue. Luckily, the group has made provisions for this.
At the start, each member has to sign a legally binding document stating that if they cannot pay, they will hand over an item of the same value to the person who is losing out. This person will keep that item until the person in debt can give them the R1 000 that is owed.
Dominique Rollino, 26, junior TV producer
How it works
Dominique has a stokvel at work with five other people in her department, each of whom puts aside R200 every month. ‘We all drew our months at the beginning of last year and we each get two months.’ There is a selected money keeper to whom they give their R200 on the first Monday after payday. Once the money keeper has received all the money, she gives it all to the person who benefits that month.
In case of non-payment
‘We’ve had one case when someone could not pay and it got super-tense, but that person just paid double the following month,’ Dominique explains. ‘We like to think of it as something we all agreed on, and therefore we make sure we can pay it. I draw that money along with my debit orders so that it’s done and dusted and I know exactly what I have for the rest of the month without falling short.’
A helping hand
‘Funnily enough, every time one of us has got the money, we really needed it for an extra cost that month. My boss, for example, had serious car issues in both the months she had hers and she used it to cover that.
‘Another colleague used it to pay for an advanced yoga-training course she needed to become a certified teacher.’
Choose the right members
Zandi’s stokvel is with her friends and family, so she knows she can trust them. You will need to trust your members to stick to the rules.
Choose a goal of the stokvel from the outset
Is it for buying groceries in bulk, paying a lump sum to a member every month, or to be invested? Decide at the beginning what the goal of the stokvel is and stick with like-minded people.
Agree on the rules
The rules could include how much everyone should invest, who will manage the money, what happens if a member fails to make their contribution or decides to leave the stokvel, and when meetings will take place. Once you’ve agreed to all of this, there shouldn’t be any issues. Be sensible, write down the rules and get each member to sign them.
It’s all about the money
Depending on the kind of stokvel you have and whether there is a stokvel bank account, having a set number of people in charge of the money is a very good idea. While everyone in the stokvel has a voice, having certain people look after the money means that it’s not too confusing. Three people is a good number, because they can then cross-check each other’s work. All financial records should, however, be available to all members should they request to see them.